Summit’s Alternative Homecoming

The dance seemed unorganized and overcrowded.


Bayla Orton, Staff Writer

Though school dances and large gatherings are not currently approved by the Bend-La Pine School District, Summit parents took it upon themselves to plan a homecoming this year. 

All three of the major high schools, Bend High, Mountain View, Summit High, and even the newer Caldera, have either planned or finished these private events. Over the past couple weeks, these homecomings were held in various locations around Bend. The Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center and Seventh Mountain Inn and Resort, to name a few. These dances were parent run and strictly not school affiliated, as the Bend La Pine School district decided that it would be irresponsible to hold a dance while the county’s COVID numbers continue to rise, filling up hospital beds and taking up ventilators. 

The replacement Homecoming, The Aprés Ski dance, was Saturday, November 6, at The Riverhouse Conference Center, in northern Bend. Weeks before this dance, an Instagram account, known as summithocodance2021, advertised ticket sales, costing $30 each. This price seems steep when comparing it to the price of Caldera’s tickets, at only $15. Along with this high price, only Summit students were allowed to attend the event, potentially reinforcing the pretentious stereotype that is already imposed by Summit’s reputation. 

According to Becky Doden, a Summit parent who played a major role in planning the dance, these factors and the location of the Riverhouse were decided based on COVID protocol and student safety, even though she claimed not to be worried about the virus. 

Honestly, I was not worried at all mainly because we were requiring masks and it was only Summit students. You all go to school together seven hours a day, five days a week. You eat lunch together and play sports together. You were not being exposed to anyone new. If we had students from other schools, it would have concerned me a little more,” Doden said.

Yet, before entering, students waited in a 40-minute or longer line, either in the cold wind or packed like sardines in the entrance, waiting for temperatures to be taken, to be breathalyzed, and to turn in coats before entry. These tight quarters brought many students closer to others, potentially being near peers they have never even met at school. And even though masks were required, many didn’t wear them properly, typically setting them under noses and mouths. 

“l have been out of high school for 35 years and when I look back on my high school years, some of the memories that really stand out to me are Homecoming and Prom. Because of COVID, students have already missed out on so much. I honestly couldn’t bear to think of kids missing out on one more thing,” said Doden as she explained the importance of school dances and why she took on the challenge.

After officially entering, there was an area where students could pay for professional photos with their friends, allowing students to take off their masks and pose. An entire room was dedicated to games, which included pool, shuffleboard, ping pong, cornhole, and more. Free drinks and dessert were supplied, which you could sit and enjoy on various tables around the room. Finally, a stage and dance floor was located towards the back of the building, which later became a crowded, borderline dangerous affair. Although there seemed to be many activities, the dance seemed uneventful, full of empty space, and for many, boredom. Students often idled in various places, not participating in the sometimes-hazardous dance floor or the game room, which was often full.

 A couple students began crowd surfing and were shortly dropped, escorted out by security, and somehow let back into the masses. Later, students began to run and push each other around in the crowd, knocking over many individuals. For the first hour of the dance, a cover band performed a multitude of pop songs, though live music is extremely uncommon for school dances like homecoming. For the next two hours, it seemed as if students took charge of the music, playing various rap songs, asking their friends for requests, and singing happy birthday to a member of the audience. 

The lack of control throughout the dance was clear, and many students took advantage of this. Periodically, a volunteer paused the music in order to ask the student body to wear their masks properly. The tightly packed crowd quickly started booing, ignoring those in charge before forcibly continuing the music. Trying to manage the uncontrollable crowd, parent volunteers called the homecoming court up to the stage. As these winners were announced at a prior football game, many individuals didn’t listen, leaving to grab a drink and continuing to chat with their friends. Because of the lack of organization, the dance itself didn’t feel like a traditional homecoming. 

Although having a homecoming during this abnormal time was incredibly fun, a non-school affiliated dance caused students to believe there were no consequences.

*Edited on Nov. 16.